CLIFTON PARK -- A new attempt to resurrect long-embattled plans to build a Sonic on Route 146 was quickly derailed on Tuesday night when the town Planning board was informed that, despite the presence of the project on the meeting agenda, the company had not yet received approval for the new plans from its landlord.
Sonic has, for close to two years now, been attempting to open a drive-in restaurant in the Town Plaza on Route 146, a property owned by Clifton Park-based real estate company DCG Development.
The new plan for the drive-in, according to Planning Department documents, reduces in the large parking area that would have required an extensive storm water management system.
However, according to Clifton Park Planning Director John Scavo, a few hours before the meeting, DCG notified the board that the company had not approved the adjustments to Sonic’s revamped site plan.
While Sonic was able to receive written comments from planning staff regarding to new plan, the Planning Board informed Sonic it would not proceed with any review until the owner of the building grants approval.
“The applicant last evening was advised to provide a new owner authorization from DCG for the project before the Planning Board will consider the application request to modify a previously approved plan,” Scavo said.
The collapse of the original Sonic plan came following a ruling in June by a state Supreme Court judge in Saratoga County, during which the judge upheld DCG Development’s lease termination with Sonic.
A June 20 decision from Judge Thomas Buchanan found Sonic franchisee Fast Eats Clifton Park and its owner, Gene Nachamkin, to be in breach of the lease contract after the company failed to design and install improvements needed before the restaurant could open. Among the improvements was an underground storm water management system.
Buchanan also ordered the company to pay an unspecified amount of damages to DCG, though in the original lawsuit filed by the DCG sought to retain the first few months of Sonic’s rent for the space as well as its security deposit, which amounted to $21,333.
In August it appeared that the plans had all but dissolved. “For rent” signs were on display in the windows of space that Sonic was slated to move into and the property was, and still is, listed on DCG's website as an available space that can host either a retail or restaurant operation.
The path to opening the restaurant had been bumpy and filled with delays since the project's start; progress came to a complete halt in 2018. After a lengthy review process, centered specifically on how the drive-in could be worked into the space, the town Planning Board granted final approval to the project in June 2018.
Originally, the drive-in chain was aiming for a fall 2019 opening for the 3,700-square-foot restaurant. Had it met its opening goal, the Clifton Park location would have been the fast-food chain's third location in the Capital Region.
Sonic has since gone on to start work on an Albany location on Route 9W, which was set to open in August but has yet to be completed.